(2018-09-13) Last Minute Hoarding
Jessica and Julian are both doing some last minute hoarding at the groceries store; the promised repayment of a life debt is brought up.

Rows upon rows of groceries with the produce at one end clear across to the frozen section at the other end. At the back are the Meat Dept, with meat and seafood, the Deli and the Bakery. Most anything one could want, grocery wise, can be found here in this store. The aisles are numbered and well lit while the floor is scuffed in places. It’s not one of the newer stores but the manager does their best to make it as clean and well lit as possible.

The checkout area numbers 1 - 12, including a few express lanes and one for tobacco. Cashiers stand at the ready at some of them and run the black belts that haul the food from one end to the point of sale area which are then bagged. A Customer Service area is on a raised dais and customers go there for check cashing, refunds, buying stamps, money orders or bill pay, or any number of things.

With the hazardous weather just around the corner, most of the grocery stores in town have been picked clean. The word spread that the Food4Less out on Willow had just received a new shipment, but so far it's just been the people 'in the know' who have showed up. First responders, and the like. One of those is a Julian Walker, resident park ranger and looking all the worse for wear - as any other emergency staff for the municipality should be. With limited numbers, they've been run ragged all week. At the moment, he's standing next to his buggy full of water in the produce section of the store, holding what appears to be two different sized cantaloupe in his hands, as if trying to judge which one he should take.

Someone else 'in the know' is, you guessed it, the newspaper with their informants and spies. Even though Jessica has already made plans to weather the storm at Kate's B&B, she still intends to pull her weight and bring what supplies she can muster. Also pushing a buggy, with two trays of bottled water, a bunch of canned food and… feminine products, ahem, she spots Julian across the aisle and makes her way over until she's parked behind him. Where, evidently, she can stare at him while he holds the pair of cantaloupes in a slightly weird way.

After watching silently for a few seconds with her lips pursed, she can't hold back and tilts her head at him. "It is kinda lonely up in the mountains, isn't it?"

The voice is familiar and the moment he hears it, Julian straightens, turning around with the cantaloupes in each hand, around chest level. His head tilts slightly, eyes slanting just a hair as he peers at the girl. Just as recognition light-bulbs those big green eyes of his and cause them to widen slightly, he also comes to the realization as to the absurdity of how he must look holding up the fruit. Quick decision making has him dropping both in the upper shelf of the buggy and he briefly looks Jessica up and down. "You clean up well." He comments, that easy smile of his lurking in the corner of his lips. It's only then that he registers that not only did she actually speak to him, but she asked him a question too. He glances sidelong at the buggy full of water than shakes his head. "Oh, this is for the local shelter. I've got a well, so…" Blink. Mountains? "Someone did their homework." Pause. "Jessica, right?"

"No, lonely. I meant… lonely. Something to…" Jessica lifts both hands and makes as if cupping her own breasts, but stops short after taking a peek at the cantaloupes. "Uh, never mind. YES!" She beams prettily. "Hey, you remember me! Do I seriously look so different?" A hand comes up to brush a lock of her bangs away from her eye. "It's probably just the lighting." And possibly the makeup, even though she's not wearing a lot of it. "You know, I used to hate bottled water. I can't believe I'm stocking up on it now."

Julian blinks again, glancing at the fruit, then Jessica - and with her hands drawing attention below eye level, to her chest as well. The man quickly diverts his gaze, clearing his throat and looking back -up- at her. The fumble affords him an opportunity to take a playful jab at her. "Of course I remember the girl who managed to wander her way across a canyon and nearly take us both on a quick trip to the bottom." He smiles through it though, leaning on his own cart a little. "How's it hangin'?" He relents before the jokes get too bad, managing a soft chuckle which he partially covers up as he looks over at the stacks of bottled water in his own buggy. "It's a necessary evil at times like these. Normally I'm completely against them." He runs a hand over one of the cases of water, shaking his head. "Did you know it takes more water to make the plastic bottle for one of these than the amount of water it actually contains?"

Jessica bobs her head and gestures offhandedly at the buggies filled with bottled water. "I did; that's another reason I object to them.If people don't stop we'll all be buried under these damn things. Imagine when aliens visit our planet, all they see is a planet covered with plastic bottles. And they're going to name the planet Dasani." She shakes her head in distaste, patting the tray of water as if slightly angry. "Anyway, I'm stocking up supplies, just like everyone else in town, but I'm planning to take refuge at Stone's B&B." Beat. "Hey, so funny story… apparently Kate Stone is an old school friend of yours." Obviously, it's not so much of a funny story to /him/.

Julian grins, starting to walk and gesturing to see if Jessica will walk the aisles with him. "Oh, are you kidding? If aliens came to our planet, they'd probably think the dogs were in charge. Think about it. You're walking your dog, it shits, you clean it up. Imagine, with no context, an alien seeing that." He chuckles, waving a hand through the air in front of him as he comes to a brief stop. "How'd that roll for a first contact scenario?" He starts pushing his cart again, thought not without first checking to see if Jessica follows. "Oh, the B&B? I-" But he's cut off as Jessica beats him to the punch. He tilts his head, eyeing Jessica with more than a passing interest now. "Yeah, she's family. You two know each other?"

Jessica does indeed move along, pushing her buggy alongside his at a leisurely pace. "I think I mentioned, I stayed there for two weeks when I first moved to Calaveras, so really she was the first friend I made here." Beat. "Not counting the guy who cut me off on the highway coming into town. He gave me the finger as he was passing me, saw me staring back at him and he started smiling. So, I don't know if he qualifies." She does a so-so gesture with one hand, then stops to grab a couple of cans of beans from the shelf. They get placed on top of the feminine products, which Jessica suddenly remembers - and casts a skeptical look at Julian, to see if he noties. "Anyway, you do raise a good point. The sad part is, if dogs were in charge, we'd probably be better off as a planet. For one thing, dogs don't lie. You always know how they feel."

Julian nods confidently, the cans of beans actually -drawing- his attention to the area of Jessica's cart where the feminine products are. If he notices, he apparently decides to spare her and not make rib her at all for it. The glance is brief and he's quick to refocus. "Kitty is probably my best friend around here. She's good people." His expression noticeably softens as the conversation covers his childhood friend, though the continued talk of aliens and dogs easily derails that part of the conversation. "They can also lick themselves. Bonus points for that - I don't know about you, but if I could do that, I'd never leave the cabin." He laughs, which seems almost odd, perhaps, coming from the generally professional and serious young man. The pearly smile, the laugh, it almost seems uncharacteristic, yet adds even more layers to the already curiously walking contradiction. Julian is stern and quiet, yet encouraging and communicative when it counts. He can be a wall of intensity, and yet if a smile can be coaxed from him, it brightens his demeanor up infectiously. He can be the most polite gentleman, and then turn around and tell bad dog jokes involving pleasuring ones self.

Jessica turns a brief stare at Julian for delivering that bad dog joke. Her expression hovers between disbelief, disgust, but eventually it settles on an amused grin. "Are you religious? Because if you are, I will tell you that all of God's designs have a reason for being. He didn't just decide that, /Adam, Thou shalt not lick thyself/ because it looks weird, but because He wanted to maintain the sanctity of Holy Matrimony. If Adam wants to be licked, he needs Eve. Or vice versa." She shrugs a shoulder lazily. The brunette seems quite comfortable joking around with dirty jokes. "Huh, that makes me wonder. Do you think that's why when any kind of licking happens, it's usually accompanied by the phrase, OH GOD?"

Julian, like a teenage boy, chuckles at his own joke and defiantly maintains his smile, all the way up to the point where Jessica's evolving reactions finally crack a smile. "So, really, God did us a solid." He rubs his lightly bearded chin, contemplating the idea with more effort than is really necessary. "I've got a question for you. What does an atheist say? Oh SCIENCE?" The ranger chuckles, pausing as he plucks several boxes of instant mashed potatos off the shelf and dropping them into the cart. Not one to push a joke too far, Julian smoothly switches gears in the conversation, watching Jessica through repeat glances inbetween navigating their grocery buggies from one aisle to another. "So Miss Jessica, what do you do when you're not risking life and limb out in red zone territories?"

Jessica flashes him a pained look but also a wry smile. "OH SCIENCE. I'll have to use that next time." She deadpans, and resumes the aisle-checking alongside the ranger's. Mash potatoes? She takes a peek and decides that, no, Kate probably has these covered. The question brings her attention back to her shopping-buddy, after they move to the next aisle, finally realizing that she didn't tell him much beyond her given name. "Oh, I work for the New Era as a reporter." She reveals and waits, as if expecting some kind of a response from him. "You're not the type to be scared of reporters, right? That goes back to what I said about dogs and no secrets. People are always worried about their secrets."

Julian grins, tilting his head and sharing the same smile, until he can't help himself and he breaks out in as reserved a laugh as he can control. He shakes his head, only breaking eye contact to fill his buggy up with various canned foods. When she shares her occupation, it doesn't really phase Julian too much, though it does draw his attention right back to her. "No ma'am," Julian begins, smiling slyly, an almost impish and youthful quality to what he is leading the continued thought into, "Everyone has secrets though. For example," He pauses, leaning on his buggy, his body language pointedly directing him toward his shopping buddy. "I met this reporter who apparently has a secret fixation on the laws of physics. I believe we were supposed to get a drink, but what with the weather hazard around the corner and all, I suppose work has got in the way. Any chance you might have any suggestions on what to do about that?"

Jessica's expression is a playful one, eyes squinted and nose wrinkled. "I don't think any part of that is technically a secret, Mister Ranger Sir." She singsongs, then wags her finger at him. "But don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the promised coffee." Uhm, wait. Jess signals for Julian to hold for a second, while she digs into her shoulder bag and fetches her phone, which is quickly checked with a few thumb swipes. "Well my schedule is, miraculously, open tonight. If you're free, we could…." A quick glance at the buggies. "…grab a drink after we take care of all of this. I'll even throw in a pizza for dinner; what do you say?"

Julian also reflexively glances at the buggies, the subtle look also a stark reminder that he still has duties to attend to before his day is completely over. "Well, it's definitely not a secret now. Small town syndrome, you know." This is followed by a similar look to the look she levels him. "Why, Miss Jessica, you had me at pizza." He straightens then, gesturing toward their buggies. "I need to drop all this off at the shelter. Meet somewhere in, say, two hours?"

Jessica bobs her head animatedly. "Do you know a restaurant called Italian Affair? Best pizza. No dress code either, all casual. I'll meet you there in two hours." She concludes with a smile, but clearly neither of them are done with this last minute shopping. There will be at least one more circuit around the aisles for more chit-chat before they go their separate ways.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License